God is eternal, good, and gracious

In just about everything we do, we're conscious of the time it will take to accomplish our task or the appropriate time in which we should attempt to begin it. We set an alarm to wake us up at a set time. We watch the clock when we're getting ready in the morning so we leave the house on time. We use a calendar to help us keep track of upcoming appointments and important dates. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries as special milestones in our lives. Everything we do tends to have a time component to it.

But God is not constrained by time. Certainly He operates within time, but He also lives outside of time. He is eternal in nature. Likewise, by nature, He is perfectly good and gracious. We can be grateful that our eternally good and gracious God extends those perfections of His nature toward us. He delights to be good to us. He delights to be gracious toward us. He delights to grant us eternal life as an unearned gift.

Right now, we're going to take a look at the attributes or perfections of God that we refer to as His eternality, goodness, and grace. We're also going to wrestle with what it looks like for God to extend the blessing and utilization of those attributes toward us.


I. God is eternal

“But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.”
— Psalm 102:12, ESV
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
— Hebrews 13:8, ESV

Because we measure all things in time, and because we're used to the concept of things having a beginning and an end, God's eternality can be a challenging concept for us to try to wrap our minds around. But the Scriptures reveal to us that God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. He has always been, and always will be. No matter how far into the past you could go, you would find God there. No matter how far into the future you could visit, you would find God there as well.

In Exodus 3, God refers to Himself as "I AM." He was revealing to Moses in that chapter that He has always existed. He didn't come into being, He has always been. He is uncaused and was never created. There has never been a time when He didn't exist and He never needed anyone or anything else to bring Him into existence.

In Psalm 102, the psalmist reminds us that God's dominion isn't temporary, but will exist forever. The authority of His throne stretches in every direction and He will be remembered throughout all generations. I realize that some contemporary philosophers have attempted to convince people that God is "dead," but the word of God tells us otherwise. God lives, has always been alive, and will never cease to exist.

Scripture also reveals to us that Jesus Christ, God the Son, is eternal in nature. He has eternality existed in perfect union with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 13 tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even though He stepped into time, was born a man, took on flesh, and united His divine nature with His human nature, He at no time stopped being God nor did He come into being at the time of His earthly birth. He existed beforehand and He lives forever. He even got into some trouble with the religious leaders during the time of His earthly ministry by telling them that He has always existed.

“Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
— John 8:53, 58, ESV

I take comfort in the fact that our God is eternal and isn't constrained by the limits of time. Because time doesn't limit Him like it does you and me, He can see not only what has happened, but what will happen. When He gives us counsel, we can be confident that the counsel we're receiving is from one with divine foreknowledge of the future.

Likewise, when we face roadblocks or unexpected changes to our plans, we can rest in the fact that our God who knows what's best for us, who can see our futures, is working things out for our benefit.

I'll give you an example from my own life. Years ago, I attempted to buy an investment property that seemed like a good deal to me. On paper, everything seemed to make sense, but at the last minute, the seller pulled out of the deal. There was nothing I could do about it, but since that time, I have been able to see that our Lord who exists outside of time, and can see what is coming down the line, was acting on my behalf and for my good. If that deal had taken place, it would have hurt me financially with other future needs that I couldn't anticipate. I'm grateful that God exists outside of time and can see what I am unable to see.


II. God is good

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
— Luke 18:18-19, ESV

God's word also makes it clear to us that He is the perfection of goodness. He is perfect in His moral excellence. He is perfect in His virtue. He expresses His goodness toward us with the desire that we will joyfully reflect His goodness in our interactions with each other.

In James 1:17, we're told that every good and perfect gift comes from God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
— James 1:17, ESV

God is the source of goodness and the standard by which goodness is measured. In His goodness, He chooses to bless us in all kinds of ways we don't deserve. Just a quick look at our lives gives us many illustrations of the goodness of God all around us.

One of the things that amazes me most about God is His decision to be good to us, even though we were set against Him as His enemies. Scripture tells us that we were not seeking Him, that we loved evil, and that every inclination of our hearts embraced that which was set against God. Yet, into that exact context, God the Father sent God the Son into the world to show us His goodness and rescue us from our wickedness.

The very fact that God would choose to do this for us should foster a healthy sense of security in our hearts. God isn't petty. He doesn't toy with us for His amusement. He delights to show us His goodness, knowing that we will be blessed by this expression of His nature. He also invites us to copy Him in our relationships with one another.

Over the past year, I have put this concept to the test in the context of relationships with a few people who have historically upset me or have been abnormally inconsiderate toward me. Because I'm an undeserving recipient of God's goodness, I have been looking for opportunities to show goodness to them. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but this decision to mirror God's goodness has helped me to see these people in a new light and has fostered a spirit of friendship between us instead of a spirit of conflict or irritation.

Understanding that God is the perfection of goodness can also have a powerful impact on our perspective toward our circumstances. In Romans 8:28, one of the most frequently quoted verses of Scripture, we're told, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." -Romans 8:28, NLT

That means that our good God likewise has good things in store for those who genuinely love Him. Every circumstance, every trial, every awkward situation, every meeting, and every victory will be worked out by Him for our good. If He has called you unto Himself, you can likewise be confident that He has a perfectly good plan for your life that He is gradually unfolding right before you. You may not be able to see all the details ahead of time like God can, but in the midst of what you're experiencing, you can confidently remind yourself that God is good and He is being good toward you. Do you believe this?


III.  God is gracious

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
— Hebrews 4:16, ESV

The word of God also reveals to us that God is the source and perfection of grace. Grace is the giving of undeserved blessing or undeserved gifts, and we can observe the grace of God at work in seemingly small ways as well as in eternally significant ways. Rain to water the ground is a gift of God's grace. Seeds that germinate into plants that produce food for us are a gift of God's grace. Natural resources that can be utilized to build shelter or power different modes of transportation are gifts of God's grace as well. Some theologians refer to these examples as illustrations of God's common grace to humanity at large.

But the grace of God is extended to us in eternally significant ways as well. Specifically, our salvation is a gift of God's grace. We were lost in sin and being crushed under a debt we didn't have the capacity to repay. We were infected with unrighteousness and were doomed to spend eternity under the wrath of God. But God, in His grace, provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ. The work was done for us. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God. Jesus paid for our freedom and forgiveness. Now, as we trust in Him, we become recipients of His gift of salvation.

Hebrews 4:16 also describes God's throne as a "throne of grace." With grace, God rules and reigns over His creation. With grace, God intervenes in our lives. Because He is so gracious toward us, He invites us to come before His throne of grace in prayer, with confidence, because He delights to help us in the midst of our times of need. He is ready to bless us in ways we don't deserve as we trust in Him, walk with Him, and communicate with Him daily.

Sometimes we're tempted in life to grumble because we feel like we aren't getting what we deserve. I have a friend who recently commented that her husband deserves a new car. Does he deserve a new car? What if he didn't have one? Should he be upset? In general, do we deserve nice things? Good weather? Tasty food? A life that's free from conflict and adversity? No, we don't deserve any of these things. If God actually gave us what we deserved, we would be devastated. We broke fellowship with Him back in the Garden of Eden, and since that time, we've deserved nothing more than His wrath.

So don't grumble when you're inconvenienced. Don't grumble when you aren't treated like a king or queen. Don't grumble when the sky is cloudy or your food is bland. Instead, be grateful for the oxygen you're allowed to breathe, the shelter that protects you from the weather, and the hope you have beyond your current circumstance because God who rules from the throne of grace has blessed you in more ways than you can count and you didn't deserve even one of His blessings.

I love what the Apostle Paul tells us about the grace of God...

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, ESV

God's grace truly is sufficient for us. God's goodness is inspiring to us. God's eternality is comforting to us. As we meditate on these attributes of God, let's be thankful that He has chosen to bless us as the beneficiaries of His perfections.

© John Stange, 2018